Meet RoseAnne Simpson: Directing her life
By Kathleen Walker


Photo by Lauren Highfill

Directing came naturally for senior theatre and performance studies major RoseAnne Simpson. An avid reader growing up, she always envisioned the book’s story in her mind while reading. “I hate when books become movies,” she says, “because it never matches the image in my head.” Later, when she became involved in theatre, she was the one who took charge while rehearsing scenes. “I love acting, but directing is so much more exciting to me.”

During the fall 2007 theatre season, RoseAnne directed three of the plays for the production of “365 Days/365 Plays” by Suzan-Lori Parks. “That was fun and nerve-wracking at the same time,” she says. “It was my first time with official castings and I didn’t know what to look for. Once I started realizing how to pick things out, I had a really fun experience directing the plays.”

In a class taught by Assistant Professor Hannah Harvey, RoseAnne and the other students discussed Harvey’s production of “Out of the Dark,” an ethnographic performance about Virginia coal miners. “I was fascinated by this new aspect of theatre that I’d never heard of before,” RoseAnne says. “Ethnography is similar to a documentary, but it’s more storytelling and collecting narratives while acknowledging your part in the process. I just knew this is what I wanted to do.”

RoseAnne’s honors capstone project will be a performance ethnography piece about different generations of Marines to study what it means to be a member of that military branch. Military ties run deep for RoseAnne, whose boyfriend, parents and both sets of grandparents were involved with the armed forces. “I’m interested in stories and people’s stories in particular,” she says. “I want to know how Marines view themselves and how that image makes them unique.”

Despite the hard work of pulling together the research, writing and directing into the final capstone performance, RoseAnne welcomes the challenge. This outlook is no surprise to Harvey, who describes RoseAnne as “a dedicated student, able to excel at whatever she chooses to do. RoseAnne is able to create beautiful performances and then critically reflect on them, making her a true artist-scholar.”

While at Kennesaw State, RoseAnne has received the Arts Dean’s Endowed Scholarship and a general theatre and performance studies scholarship. Even though she is scheduled to graduate in the spring, she is not quite ready to say goodbye to KSU. “I love it here,” she says. “I’ve learned so much and had the opportunity to be hands-on with so many different projects. I love that sense of involvement, knowing all the professors and the back doors into places and just becoming a part of everything.”

After graduation, she plans to take some time off before returning to school for both her master’s and doctoral degrees in performance studies. Her ultimate goal is to become a teacher as well, continuing with her passion for performance ethnography. “The constant interaction with students would help me to continue learning,” RoseAnne says. “And ethnography allows me to create my own pieces and direct them. It’s the perfect combination.”


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